Brighton Tattoo Convention is over for another year and what a great edition that was. A huge thank you to everyone who came out this bank holiday weekend, to all the artists that made the convention so great, and all the people who got tattooed, bought a print or simply enjoyed the show. Keep an eye out for pictures we’ll be sharing, and more post show updates. We will soon be releasing the dates for our next edition… it’s gonna be a big one as we celebrate the 10th edition of the Brighton Tattoo Convention. Sign up to our mailing list below to keep up to date with all announcements!
This year the Brighton Tattoo Convention has moved to the Brighton Centre, in the heart of the city, right on the seafront. The full address is: Brighton Centre, Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2GR. See full info on getting to the convention below.
If you are coming by train, head to Brighton national rail station, and the Brighton Centre is roughly a 10 minute walk. When you exit the station, walk directly towards the sea front on West Street, past the Queen’s Head pub until you get to the sea front. Turn right, and the Brighton Centre is the building after The Odeon cinema.
From London and the North the easiest way to get to Brighton is to connect via the M25 London orbital motorway. The Brighton Centre is about 45 minutes once you leave the M25; leave the M25 at junction 7 southbound onto the M23, which later becomes A23 directly into Brighton. The road will continue through the City straight to Brighton Seafront where the Brighton Centre is located.
Brighton and its closest neighbours to the East and West are linked via the A27. This is the easiest route to Brighton from both directions. Leave the A27 via the A23 ramp (signposted Brighton), take the 3rd exit on the first roundabout and 1st exit on the second roundabout, this will join you onto the A23 / London Road directly into Brighton. The road will continue through the City straight to Brighton Seafront where the Brighton Centre is located.
Unfortunately there isn’t parking at The Brighton Centre – check out full parking info for the area here.
Taxis that you can hail are easily identifiable in Brighton, due to their aqua and white paint. They can be booked in advance or can be picked up from the various ranks around the City, the closest to the Brighton Centre is at the bottom of West Street outside the Odeon Cinema.
Local Taxi companies include:
Radio Cabs – 01273 204060 / 01273 414141
Streamline – 01273 202020 / 01273 747474
City Cabs – 01273 205205
If you are getting a bus into Brighton, most buses stop nearby at Churchill Square shopping centre. Directions from Churchill Square to the Brighton Centre: when exiting the bus you need to head east, if Churchill Square is in front of you, turn left and if behind you turn right, towards the Clock Tower. When you reach the Clock Tower turn right and head down West Street, until you get to the seafront. The Brighton Centre is to the right and less than a minute walk and is situated on Kings Road.
All our events during the weekend will be in the local area, check out the events page for full details.
Neil Dransfield is a Leeds based tattoo artist with a penchant for the dark stuff. Working out of his shop, Oddfellows, Neil’s work has shifted back to his awesome, original, black surreal style that you can spot a mile off. We grabbed 5 minutes with him to ask him a little bit more about his work, and what we can expect to see from him at the convention…
BTC: So, how long have you been tattooing for Neil?
ND: Erm I have no idea! I’ve totally lost track of time! Maybe like 7 or 8 years at a guess?
You can find me working at Oddfellows. Me and Tom Flannigan opened the studio about 4 years ago I think it was now.
BTC: So how has Oddfellows progressed in those 4 years?
ND: So there were 3 of us that owned it, and we’ve gone to 4 or 5 guys working with us now, and everybody specialising in doing something a bit different. I think this is the 4th or 5th years we’ve done Brighton now, and there’s me, Adam Cornish and Michael Gibson coming down.
BTC: What are your thoughts on Brighton?
ND: I love Brighton! I love that they’ve changed the time of the year for the convention now, I love the place itself, and now the convention is in April, because last time it was horrible…
BTC: Won’t you miss the sideways rain?!
ND: No! I was trying to carry my bed and I was blown across the road! And I’m quite looking forward to a new venue. I quite liked the Hilton as well, but it’s a good idea, a fresh change for everybody.
BTC: Will you be selling prints at the convention?
ND: Hopefully! Yeah, if I can get some more painting down then I’ll be selling prints, if I can find time to do some more work, I still need to do all the drawing for my flash. Everything’s always last minute!
BTC: Are you doing walk-ups or pre-books?
ND: I’ve already pre-booked the Saturday, but the Sunday will be Walk-ups and if I get time on Saturday too. Is it just Saturday and Sunday this year? It’s better just 2 days, I stressed out last time with Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I booked in people on the Friday and we travelled down that day, so then I had to tattoo too, and that day was just horrible.
BTC: It goes so quick though!
ND: It’s always the same, you travel down, you come you work, you don’t see anybody, you don’t see the convention and then you go home again!
BTC: So how would you describe your style, how did you get into it? Have you always been into the dark stuff?
ND: Even before I started tattooing my artwork was like that, and then for some reason I progressed into doing fuller work and bright sort of girly stuff. This last year I’ve really stripped it back and gone back to the darker, stranger sort of stuff. I think it’s more of my personality in my work than it was when it was bright, colourful more girly, and I’m a lot more comfortable now than I was working in that stuff. Colour work is stressful. And some people make it look effortless and so easy, and I just used to have panic attacks. I think I’ve found my way again with what I’m doing. I’ve probably lost loads of customers, but I’m a lot happier in what I’m doing. People do seem to love it as well.
BTC: So what’s next, what’s going to be the progression?
ND: I’m going to carry on with what I’m doing at the minute and see where it goes from there. I’m quite interested in exploring negative spaces in stuff at the minute. I did a weird snake lady yesterday with a negative snake over her face, and I don’t think people really got it but I really enjoyed it.
BTC: Have you got any other conventions coming up, or any guest spots?
ND: End of July I am coming down, I’m coming down with Lukasz, hopefully London Convention if I can again, and then I’m off up to Old Town in Edinburgh in July as well. And I’m hopefully coming down to Brighton before the convention with Machete to hang out with him and Adrian.
Neil will be with us all weekend at BTC9, head over to try to grab a walk up appointment from him on the Sunday. Still haven’t got your tickets? Get them here.
We are stoked to be welcoming Hannah Pixie Sykes to the Brighton Convention this year. Hannah will be joining us with the guys from Parliament Tattoo, in what will be her first ever appearance tattooing at a convention. Hannah has a huge online following for her tattoos and artwork, and is notoriously tricky to get booked in with due to overwhelming popularity. We got in touch with Hannah to chat about what has influenced her style, how she got into tattooing, and all about Black Stabbath, her private studio…
BTC: How did you get into tattooing and how long have you been working now?
HPS: I started working at a little street shop while I was still at college. I got the job through a close friend who was a piercer. My friends were all, and still are for the most part, considerably older than me so it helped a lot getting into the industry through them at a young age! I was still like 16/17 so I cleaned down, cleaned up and just generally ran the desk for a year or so before I was even let loose on grapefruits with a tattoo machine!
I then went on to leave that shop, with my close friends who worked there, as they’d decided to set up a custom studio called Holy Mountain. I spent two years there, learning what I could and tattooing friends at the end of the day after all the walk ins I could get my hands on. After 2 years or so with them, I felt like I had learnt all that I could there, and after deciding to move to Sheffield everything just fell into place for my own studio, Black Stabbath. I had no intentions of setting up shop alone, ever really. I didn’t have a plan as such and I certainly didn’t feel anywhere near experienced enough – but I felt like in that particular period of my life, everything just happened so organically and it feels like mountains literally moved to allow me to live the life I knew was the right path for me. I’m a big believer in synchronicity and just letting go and surrendering to the flow of things. I’m all for working hard but I find personally when I don’t force things the universe always delivers!
BTC: How would you describe your own style?
HPS: I’m not entirely sure if I’m honest. It’s still changing and I hope it will continue to, so I will continue to improve alongside that. But in three words I guess I’d say; black, bold and ornate.
BTC: Do you have any big influencers in the tattooing world?
HPS: My friends really inspire me. I’m really lucky to know some really sick artists who I’m very stoked I get to work alongside. The dedication they have to continually improve and only put out work that is to the very best of their ability is inspiring. Real artists who create for the sake of creating, not just for monetary gain. Rebecca Vincent is dope, Scott Move has helped me no end too & all the guys at Parliament to be honest. I have a lot of work from an awesome artist called Jemma Jones too who helped me out loads, offering advice that came in really useful, especially when I’d just started. Guyletatooer is also a huge influencer for me, artistically. I met him when I was 18, and have been getting tattooed by him ever since. He is now one of my closest friends. I owe him a lot for his genuine advice, the beautiful art he has put on me and all the help he has given me with my own work.
BTC: What inspires your art?
HPS: Mostly, wherever I have most recently been in the world. Travelling the world and making as many memories as possible is all I spend any money on these days really and it’s a win win situation, because I always come back with a million new photos for reference and feeling mad refreshed and inspired to create something new.
BTC: What has been the highlight of your tattooing career to date?
HPS: Tattooing my parents! For sure. I’ve been given some amazing opportunities through tattooing there’s no doubt but that’s gotta be numero uno.
BTC: Is Brighton the first tattoo convention you have worked at? Have you ever visited before?
HPS: It is the first convention I will be tattooing at myself. I’ve been to a bunch before to see friends and hang out, and I also had the chance to work Mondial Du Tatuage recently, the incredibly huge Paris convention. That was a ton of fun but super hectic, I was working helping out my friend and tattooist Guy. It was definitely a good way to ease into tattooing at one myself – I’ve always sworn I’d steer clear of working them till now because I’m quite socially awkward and anxious and always have been. The environment I have created in my own studio couldn’t be further from that of a convention, super chilled, private and cosy. But that being said I am excited about it and my assistant and closest friend is gonna be there with me for moral support !
BTC: How are you feeling about the prospect of tattooing in the convention environment?
HPS: Nervous and excited. Mainly nervous!
BTC: Will you have any prints or merch for sale?
HPS: Yes! I’ll be bringing very limited numbers of clothing & accessories from my latest collection, and I’m also having some new prints made especially!
BTC: How can people book in with you?
HPS: I only ever plan about a month ahead in advance, as my life is too unpredictable to look much further forward than that. I’m not currently taking bookings as I’m booked up but the email to enquire over is firstname.lastname@example.org – my assistant Charlotte manages all my emails and appointments.
BTC: What are you looking forward to the most about Brighton?
HPS: Well from what I remember Brighton was an amazing, super pretty place with some amazing vegan places to eat at. And I fucking love food. And the sea! Also, of course, seeing a few familiar faces and hopefully making some sick tattoos in the process.
Elliott Wells is a tattoo artist with an instantly recognisable style, often featuring ornate details and warm, earthy tones. We caught up with Elliott to ask him about how he developed his style, and what we can expect to see from him at the convention…
BTC: Elliott, what got you into tattooing?
EW: Really my mum and dad got me into tattooing. My mum and dad are old 80s goths and metalheads respectively, so they’ve both got some really shit tattoos, but they had a lot of tattoos. They were getting tattooed by some old artists in Chatham and as I got older I was always around them, and then my mum met my step dad who was also heavily tattooed and it just kind of seemed right! I was always around them, I liked them. My mum had a tattoo that she would never let me see, I think it was really offensive, but she had it covered up after a few years so I never saw it but was always curious. That’s kinda how I got into liking them I suppose… and I’m shit at everything apart from art so…!
BTC: How did you take the step into tattooing?
EW: Hanging around a studio doing dogs body work, then becoming a receptionist and then eventually being taken on as an apprentice, but it took years! Years and years and years. The proper way: lunch runs, toilet cleaning, mopping, sweeping, making needles for the week – stuff that most apprentices would never have to do now!
BTC: Your style is so recognisable, how did you develop that from the beginning?
EW: Probably from not being able to draw all the things that I tattoo now, I told myself I would be able to draw them, so I just kept drawing them and drawing them and drawing them. Probably drawing them badly, probably tattooing them badly to begin with, but I kept doing it and kept doing it till I finally got good at those things. That’s sort of how I learn things – not being able to do things then I keep practicing until I can do it – no matter how many times.
BTC: You have a unique colour palette which is really striking, you can always identify if a tattoo is yours based from the colours; what drew you to that look and aesthetic?
EW: I suppose its the way the I blend my colours, I don’t like blending from one ink to another, I will always double, triple, quadruple dip into various inks as long as they’re in the same colour palette or colour tone… I very rarely use whites or anything like that, just earthy natural tones and you get really smooth natural blends, brighter colours and no under shading so everything brighter. Always bright.
BTC: How many times have you worked Brighton Convention?
EW: This will be my second year working at Brighton. Last year was my first and I visited for a number of years but this will be year number 2! Very excited. Its nice to work it as there is a lot of people there I’m already quite friendly with so its nice to see some familiar faces and just friends to hang out with and have a drink with. It’s a really relaxed show as opposed to others where its felt very regimented and like ‘I have to do this by a certain time or I’m not allowed in there with that’ – Brighton’s very relaxed.
BTC: So what have you got coming up now apart from the convention?
EW: I’ve got 3 conventions this year, I’ve got Brighton, London and Montreal, and then that’s done for the year. I won’t be doing many more guest spots from now on, I prefer to focus now just on my work, being at the studio and being at home seems to me to be more important these days. It’s nice to see friends but I can see friends on a social basis not on a work basis. Cut back a little bit and spends some time on artwork, I’ve not got a problem with that, I’m getting old.
BTC: How long have you been tattooing?
EW: I think it’s going to be coming up to 5 and half years now so not long in the grand scheme of things. but long enough… I’m 27.
BTC: Do you have any projects outside of tattooing?
EW: I’m a terrible painter, but I’m working on a sketchbook at the moment. It was going to be ready for Brighton but it won’t be now unfortunately, and hopefully it will be out for London. I hope to have some of my engraved bookmarks, and some prints to sell at Brighton but I’m very disorganized… 6 weeks? I think you’re expecting a great deal from me! you might not get anything now…
At last years convention we commissioned photographer James Hole to capture portraits of visitors and artists at the convention. The resulting pictures are a real insight into the modern tattoo community.
We look forward to seeing some of these faces again this year, alongside a host of other fantastic artists. Have a look at the full Gallery below, and keep an eye out for exclusive video interviews with select BTC artists soon to be featured on HighSnobiety.
The Brighton Tattoo Convention takes place April 30th to May 1st at the Brighton Centre. You can see catch some of the people photographed above at our next edition. Click here for a full list of artists. Still haven’t got your tickets? Book now.
This year at the convention we are taking a closer look at the art of pinstriping, with experts Nefarious. Based in Farnborough, Hampshire, these guys are the masters of what is an old school art form. Pinstriping as an artform is as old as the hills, more commonly associated with coachlining, barge painting and Romany waggons.
‘Modern’ pinstriping is attributed to characters like Tommy ‘The Greek’ Hrones, Dean Jeffries, Kenneth ‘Von Dutch’ Howard and Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, and these days pinstriping can seen on everything from cars and bikes to handbags and guitars.
Nefarious will be joining us at the show at 3.30pm on both Saturday and Sunday with live workshops, including an introduction to pinstriping, the tools, paints and brushes to use, and creating a design.
See more at their website here, and don’t miss them at the show.
This year we are very excited to welcome Rafel Delalande to the Brighton Tattoo Convention for the first time. A big fan of all that is black and metal, Raf is well known for his dark style and choice of subject matter. Having been in the game well over a decade, Raf can currently be found working amidst the ranks of Seven Doors. We caught up with him for a chat to uncover some of the mystery behind the man…
NMW: So how did you get into Tattoo art, were you into it before you became a tattooist?
RDL: When I started getting tattooed I got into it really fast, I mean I became friends with my tattooist when I was doing building work, and he told me you should stop this and do more drawings, and come on the weekends here. This was Olivier; he has a shop in Montreal now, called Glamord.
NMW: So how long have you been tattooing now?
RDL: I started 14 years ago, but I started seriously later, the first 3 or 4 years was like flat and trying to, then I met Guy [Le Tattoer] 10 years ago and he took me to work with him, so it’s been 10 years now every day.
NMW: So you worked with Guy Le Tattooer, where was he working then, was that in his old shop?
RDL: Yes it was in a real old shop he had in Toulouse, it was called Alternative Tattoo. That was now 10 years ago, I work for him there for a few years, then we open a shop called La Tannerie, then we closed it.
NMW: Being from warmer climates, Can you tell me a bit about how and why you came to London?
RDL: I came to London Because I met a woman…. So I decided to stay here, I was working at Shangri La at first, then I met Jondix at some convention and I wanted to change shop as it was a bit slow for me, and then Jondix told me you can work with me at Seven Doors. Obviously I was really really happy, I mean I do black and dots so he was one of the people who influenced what I do.
NMW: So how did you come to your style now, have you always kept it completely black?
RDL: I did maybe 2 or 3 tattoos with a bit of red, like 12 years ago… I started doing just black when I met Yann Black, I dunno if you know him, he was working at Glamord with Olivier in Montreal. He does a bit of colour, red sometimes, but mostly just black, so I started doing just black after I met him, and I started doing dots, I use a lot of dots. About 11 years ago I did a portrait of Frankenstein on my sister and I did all dots shaded, and so I started doing all dots portraits, that sort of thing. And then with Guy I think we’ve been influencing each other for a few years, I learned a lot from him, like if you do black you should do other things than dots, to make it a bit more interesting. But always black.
NMW: Keep it true. So what do you take influence from now days?
RDL: Nowadays ,devils and satanic imagery, Spanish paintings with creepy devils with faces, and I think when I do portraits its influenced by that, and I’m really influenced by movies and music, mainly metal and those aesthetics.
NMW: What movies are you into?
RDL: Dark stuff, I really like old Georges Franju, French movies from the 50’s 60s, he did the eyes without face, all black and white, really dark subjects, like Film Noir, that kind of things. When people ask me for Horror movie tattoos I’m really happy, for the work it’s a good influence.
NMW: First for you at Brighton this year… That’s exciting! Have you worked any other Conventions in the UK?
RDL:I never worked in Brighton, it’s going to be the first time, I go to Brighton a lot, but never work there, I try to go as much as possible with my girlfriend and my dog, but I’ve never been to the convention before. In the UK never, I do Paris and I think I don’t do that many convention, I would like to do more, I just started doing conventions recently.
NMW: How do you find working in that environment?
RDL: Now I think I’m ok because I have a few years of tattooing, I think I did a few like 7 years ago and I didn’t feel comfortable at all, but I’m more sure about my work now, so it easier to set up if you have customers, you just have to focus on the tattoo. Conventions are nice, you always meet good people, I think it’s going to be good.
NMW: Are you going to have any prints or anything to sell?
RDL: I’m gonna have some, patches and stuff, I just did some prints recently horror movie based and I’m going to bring that, and I’m going to do t-shirts, loads of stuff.
NMW: What are you plans, I know you say you want to do more conventions, is there anything you do outside of tattooing, any creative endeavours?
RDL: I’m trying to organise my time now, I want to do way more illustrations, started working slowly on a series of back pieces illustrations, I’d like to do 6 back piece illustrations, and that takes time. Full body suits.
NMW: Like the Body Scrolls Exhibition that will be at the Convention? Did you do any in that?
RDL: Yes I did two, I did a guy and a girl, I was really happy, was nice to have a deadline, you know when you have an exhibition like this you have a deadline. I’m quite proud of the work I did for the back pieces; I’m really happy with it.
NMW: How long did it take you?
RDL: It took me about 7 or 8 nights on each one – I’m slow, I take my time. I just finished one painting from an exhibition in Rome and I’m working on another one for an exhibition in Paris now.
NMW: What kind of paint do you work with?
RDL: When I do bigger stuff I use a brush, a really thin brush, and I do everything with liquid acrylic. I did like that for the body suit scrolls, same technique. When I draw or paint I use dark shading, when I tattoo I use other methods.
NMW: Do you like to do big work like that?
RDL: Yes, as a creative person, for me I think of it a bit like a child wanting to show how nice his drawing is, for me it’s the same with the body suits, you know I have the good feedback from people I respect. Bigger stuff is always more impressive.
Recently I have had some back pieces and full fronts, not yet body suits, I mean I have one person who I’m basically doing a bodysuit on. To find somebody who has nothing is difficult. I like it though, I’m impressed by the full body suits, but I prefer for me, to have smaller bits really.
See more of Raf’s work on his Instagram here – If you want to get tattooed by Rafel Delalande during the Brighton Tattoo Convention email him email@example.com. Drop by his booth to check out his flash, prints and more. Raf will be accepting some walk ups so try your luck if don’t manage to get a pre-booked space. The Brighton Tattoo Convention takes place April 30th to May 1st at the Brighton Centre. Click here for a full list of artists. Still haven’t got your tickets? Book now.
A big part of BTC is the selection of amazing Traders that we add into the mix. From tattoo supplies to clothing and accessories, to tattoo flash and artwork, to curios such as taxidermy, the shopping opportunities at the convention are as diverse as the artists. Rich is an avid tattoo collector, and this year joins us at the convention with his brand Abandon Ship Apparel. We had a quick chat with him to see what he’ll be bringing to the convention and what he’s looking forward to most…
So, for those who don’t know, can you give me a brief rundown of the brand?
So Abandon Ship… We call ourselves an alternative lifestyle brand from Scotland but that doesn’t really say much… we make clothing that we love for people we love. We take a lot of references from traditional tattoo artwork but work with a lot of amazing designers and artists so our range is usually pretty eclectic. Beyond that we believe in being transparent with our customers and spreading a positive message.
BTC: Brighton is quite the trek from your motherland, why did you decide to make the trip?
Brighton has been one of my favourite conventions for years, even before the brand existed I used to travel down to check it out with my wife. I love the vibe of the show and the city its held in. Brighton has a great culture and vibe to it and that is apparent at the convention too. As I said, I want to take the brand to a lot more conventions going forward so it made sense that our first one back would be my favourite.
BTC: What are you most looking forward to about the weekend?
Seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I know a lot of people attending so it will be a great time! Plus a convention is always a good excuse to pick up some new prints for the house.
BTC: You are heavily tattooed yourself… Can you highlight some of your favourite tattoos and tell us a bit about the artists you chose and why/story behind?
Tattooing has been a part of my whole adult life. From when I started getting them at the age of 17 I always wanted to be fully covered. At the moment the main project I am working on is adding a lot of black work to my shoulders and neck. I have had my arms blacked out for about 7 years now so it has been a natural progression and I love it. Some of my favourite tattoos I have are by Iain Sellar. He is one half of “Long Fox” who work with Abandon Ship a lot and is an amazing artist so when he started tattooing it was inevitable that I would get tattooed by him. He has tattooed my head twice (a shark on the side and an eagle on the back) and I love them both.
Another artist who has done a lot of work on me is Craig Ridley. He has tattooed my arms, hands, palms, legs… pretty much everywhere and I trust him a lot. Cal Jenx is also working on my back at the moment and that has been an incredibly sore but fulfilling project. I held off on my back for a long time but I am glad it is him that is working on it – he is doing an amazing job.
BTC: Are there any artists you are excited to check out during the convention?
To be honest I am always excited to see new artists that I haven’t heard of before. It is the most enjoyable part of the show for me. With Instagram I see most of my favourite artists work in real time so its always fun to find someone new whose artwork blows your mind.
BTC: Planning on getting any work yourself over the weekend?
Nah, I never really get work at conventions because I am usually working or I leave it until the last minute. I always, ALWAYS get tattoo envy at the shows though, a friend will roll up to the stall with a sweet new tattoo and I will get jealous and want to be tattooed but wont have the time. I counter this usually by getting tattooed just before the show or just after so I have something to look forward to.
BTC: What can BTC punters expect to find from you at the convention?
We will be bringing some older designs that are hard to find along with some of our latest products – a little bit of something for everyone.
BTC: You’ve achieved a lot so far with AS, what have been some of your highlights?
Ah there has been so many! I think the main highlight is that I get to do this for a living and working with so many awesome people. It is a privilege to get to do this and one I embrace!
BTC: You’ve talked openly about the changing retail environment, and how brands need to adapt or die. What’s next for Abandon Ship?
For us the most important thing is to keep knocking out awesome designs, to have fun at events like Brighton Tattoo Convention and provide for our families!